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Sat, Nov 16, 2013 Predictions: NBA, NHL, NFL

The high-scoring Los Angeles Clippers will go for their fourth straight win when when they host the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night. Los Angeles leads the league with an average of 110 points. The Nets likely will be without Deron Williams but can rely on Joe Johnson who gave Brooklyn a big lift, hitting the tying shot late in regulation and then nailing the game-winning layup in overtime against Phoenix. He finished with 13 points and has now scored in double figures in five straight games. Center Brook Lopez can top that, collecting at least 13 points in every game this season. Clippers are favored but I smell upset.

In each of their last games, the Detroit Redwings and New York Islanders suffered 3rd period breakdowns. The Red Wings carried a 3-1 lead into the third period Friday, but succumed to two late Washington scores.the Islanders were also on their way to a win Thursday as they held a 2-0 lead over Los Angeles after two periods. But the Kings erupted for three goals in the final session. Red Wings attempt to halt their five-game winless streak when they visit the New York Islanders on Saturday.

NFL GAME OF THE WEEK: UPSET ADDITION
Despite its perfect record, Kansas City has been the target of criticism for a perceived soft schedule – none of its opponents currently have a winning record – and the fact that four of the last five wins came against teams playing a backup at quarterback. When the Denver Broncos host the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night in a showdown for first place in the AFC West K.C’s defense and Peyton Manning’s health, and his ailing right ankle in particular, are the No. 1 storyline as the Broncos attempt to hand the Chiefs their first loss. Denver is favored by 8 but if the Chiefs can get their league leading sack makers to him, it’s going to look a whole lot different.

MLB: Cubs at Giants

Giants first baseman Brandon Belts’ knucklehead baserunning and game-losing error (not an easy play) are emblemantic of San Francisco’s season this year. Their success and failures read like a richter scale reading from a California eathquake. Unforturnately, instead of occurring every 40 years, their quake happens every day.

The San Francisco Giants look to get back on track with their best pitcher on the mound when they host the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. Madison Bumgarner (10-6, 2.93) will try to take the sting away from a damaging 3-2 loss. Bumgarner will carry a 2.55 home ERA to the mound against a Cubs team that had lost five straight in San Francisco prior to Friday.

San Francisco entered Friday last in the National League in starting pitching ERA (4.75) and fielding percentage (.981), as it has fallen toward the bottom of the NL West. A shocking sentence if there ever was one considering the success of this team is built on pitching and defense.

And with the loss of 2 of their best players being delt (Garza and Soriano) you have to wonder if the Cubs are just in shock and running on pure adrenaline.

Right hander Chris Rusin (1-0, 5.40 ERA) will step onto the mound for Chicago tonight making his third start of the year – all on the road. He picked up his first victory of 2013 by allowing two runs on two hits in five innings at Arizona on Monday. The 26-year-old, who has never faced San Francisco, has yet to go beyond five frames in nine career starts.

Bumgarner has been the only reliable and consistent starter for the Giants this year (some props to Gaudin) and he is usually at his best after a tough team loss. The question is if San Francisco can take advantage of the likely weak Cubs pitching.

[information assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: BOS-LAA, COL-ARI

Ed note: With 9 days of games left before the All-Star Break we’re spicing things up. 2 predictions a day instead of 1 so, 18 events available to put together the longest streak (currently 10) and win the $150 ($25 for second!). Choose one, both or none each day to build your streak. Good luck.

Red Sox at Angels

Anaheim is going to need Josh Hamilton to take an extra big dip tonight against Boston and step up his game. Hamilton’s batting average dipped to .207 back on June 23, but he’s turned it around since, bringing his average up to .227 thanks to a 10-game hit streak. During that span, Hamilton has hit .382 (13-for-34) with one home run and six RBIs.

The Angels will need that kind of offensive firepower against a potent Red Sox lineup that had 13 hits in Friday’s 6-2 win and averages five runs per road game, the second-highest rate in the American League.

The Boston Red Sox’s starting rotation was the weak link on the team last season but has really started to become a force in the middle of the 2013 campaign. The Red Sox will be aiming for their fifth straight quality start when they send Ryan Dempster (5-8, 4.11 ERA) to the mound at the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. Boston has allowed a total of 10 runs during its five-game winning streak.

Angels RH Jerome Williams (5-4, 3.89) recorded only five outs and threw 55 pitches in a loss to St. Louis on Wednesday, leaving him fresh enough to start again on two days’ rest. The right-hander gave up seven runs on four hits and four walks in that turn. Williams came on in relief at Boston on June 8 and was knocked around for three runs on five hits in three innings.

Rockies at Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks will try for their fourth straight victory when they host the Colorado Rockies on Saturday. Arizona, the only team in the National League West with a winning record (45-41), began a stretch in which it will play 17 of its next 22 games at home with a 5-0 victory over Colorado on Friday. Arizona has a chance to strengthen its grip on the West with a 10-game homestand heading into the All-Star break.

Colorado, which is 3 1/2 games behind Arizona and tied for second with Los Angeles, has begun a 10-game road tripwhich will take it to the break.

Lefthander Wade Miley (4-7, 4.29) gets the start for the snakes. Miley didn’t allow a run, but yielded six hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings in Arizona’s 5-4 loss to the Mets in his last start and he yielded four hits and seven walks in 4 1/3 shutout innings last time agasinst Colorado and is 4-0 in seven games (six starts) with a 2.79 ERA against the Rockies, but has struggled against Wilin Rosario (5-for-11, home run, double).

Drew Pomeranz (0-1, 8.31 ERA) goes for the Rockies and was rudely welcomed back to the major leagues by San Francisco. The 24-year-old yielded four runs and seven hits – including two home runs – in 4 1/3 innings of a 5-2 loss (the Giants only win in 11 games).

[information assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: Red Sox at Yankees

MLB Game Preview: MLB: Red Sox at Yankees

Commentary available on game day.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

NBA: Game 6, Heat at Pacers

NBA Playoff Preview: Game 6, Heat at Pacers

Commentary available on game day.
[copy assembled from NBA.com and other sources]

MLB: Marlins at White Sox

MLB Game Preview: Marlins at White Sox

Commentary available on game day.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

NBA: Game 3, Spurs at Grizzlies

NBA Playoff Preview: Game 3, Spurs at Grizzlies

Commentary available on game day.

[copy assembled from NBA.com and other sources]

NBA: Game 6, Knicks at Pacers

Huh. Could the Knicks catch a break with George Hill not being able to play?

Point guard George Hill is out with a concussion, NBA rules requiring him to pass a concussion test before he can play again. The Pacers have no idea whether that will come in time for Saturday night’s potential closeout game.

Hill was injured early in Game 4 when he ran into Knicks center Tyson Chandler. D.J. Augustin replaced Hill in the lineup Thursday and the Pacers struggled. They finished with 19 turnovers and wound up losing 85-75, a victory that got the Knicks within 3-2 and sent the series back to Indy for Game 6. Augustin played nearly 39 minutes and scored 12 points with no assists.

With or without Hill, New York must play the same way Saturday at Indiana, where they’re 0-4 this season, or they’ll be heading home for the summer instead of going home for a decisive seventh game.

And Cleavie is predicting a Game 7. It’s a tall order and I wonder if Melo is hungry enough and the Knicks can get together as a team.

[information assembled from NBA.com and other sources]

MLB: Nationals at Padres

Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann became the Majors’ first seven-game winner on Monday and is looking for #8 when the Nationals take on the Padres at Petco Park, a place Zimmermann is 1-0 with a minuscule 0.69 ERA in two career starts.

Facing the Dodgers in his last start, Zimmermann (7-1, 1.69 ERA) struck out five and walking none in the contest and marked Zimmermann’s fourth straight game that he tossed seven or more innings and allowed two runs or less.

Meanwhile, left-hander Eric Stults will be on the hill for the Padres, hoping to regain his command after a shaky start his last time out.

After walking only eight batters in his first seven starts, Stults (3-3, 4.57 ERA) issued five free passes in a loss to the Rays on Sunday. In 5 1/3 innings, he allowed three runs on five hits.

The Padres don’t get a lot of respect but they’re a good team and can score. The Nats on the ohter hand are a powerhouse and this pitching match-up heavily favors Washington.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

NBA: Game 3, Thunder at Grizzlies

NBA Playoff Preview: Game 3, Thunder at Grizzlies

Commentary available on game day.
[copy assembled from NBA.com and other sources]